The Hunt (1): The hardest challenge

croc1Broadcaster: BBC One

Year: 2015

Genre: Documentary

Duration: 60 mins

URL: https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/clip/120460

Review by Tamara Ozog and Chris Willmott

When you think of predator–prey relationships, the first image that springs to mind is often that of a big cat chasing some kind of  antelope before dragging it to the ground. It is perhaps no surprise therefore, that this first episode of the BBC series The Hunt starts and finishes with a chase of that kind, specifically a leopard tracking an impala, and a cheetah hunting a gazelle.

The real value of this programme, however, is that it doesn’t simply settle for those stories and includes a variety of different predator-prey encounters. In total the programme features nine sections, eight describing different sorts of interactions and, as is increasingly common with wildlife programmes, a final section on how they went about capturing some of the footage featured earlier.

The hunts covered include: Continue reading

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John Burn and the genetics of cancer (The Life Scientific)

bob audioBroadcaster: Radio 4

Year: 2018

Genre: Conversation about science and working as a scientist

Duration: 28 minutes

URL: https://learningonscreen.ac.uk/ondemand/index.php/clip/120149
and on iPlayer at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09rxr3t

The Life Scientific is a regular series on Radio 4, in which Physicist Jim Al-Khalili (and regular media contributor) talks to other leading scientists about their work. It is always an interesting listen because it peels away the false impression that science is a coldly calculated process to reveal some of the human experience involved in conducting research.

In February 2018, Prof Al-Khalili spoke with clinical geneticist Sir John Burn about his life and work. Prof Burn manages to juggle a number of roles; he is Professor of Clinical Genetics at Newcastle University, where he combines basic science research at the Life Science Centre, a ground-breaking research institute he co-founded, with clinical work at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He is also the Genetics Lead for the UK National Institute of Health Research and chairs spin-out company QuantuMDx, which is developing bedside DNA testing kits that could offer diagnosis in a matter of minutes.

There were many aspects of this episode that make listening to it half an hour well spent for any student of molecular bioscience. In particular, the programme gives a beautiful insight into the impact that genetics and DNA sequencing is playing in contemporary medicine (and the bigger role yet to come). Burn has been a pioneer of genetic testing in medicine and an enthusiast for benefits of routine genomic testing to facilitate personalised medicine (see, for example, his 2013 British Medical Journal article Should we sequence everyone’s genome? Yes). Continue reading